Mina Malik-Hussain

  • Ever catch yourself standing on a stool, dusting the tops of your bookshelves with those multi-coloured feathery dusters, and wondering why on earth you were doing it? What relevance a clean top-of-a-bookcase has to your life, well-being or mental health? Especially when it’s a high bookcase ...

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  • When I was small I remember the help never sat on the furniture. They would take their shoes off outside the door before they entered a room and would then either remain standing, squat or sit on the floor to speak to my grandmother or whoever it was. The old-school kind of help were for life, so ...

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  • With International Women’s Day on the horizon, it’s only relevant that this, a feminist-activist kind of column, note with pleasure the advertisements for Gul Ahmed floating around these days. It’s refreshing to see popular culture bearing messages of confidence. Be who you are, ...

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  • Did you know how high maternal mortality is in Pakistan? In 2015, according to World Bank statistics, it was 178 per 100,000 live births. Which means for every lakh people, almost two hundred women die. And for every thousand infants born, sixty-six die at birth. This doesn’t sound like so ...

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  • Two dear friends married each other recently, and when weddings happen and many kababs are consumed then philosophy seems to follow in the naan-induced haze. One of them was on the nature of the marriages we contract in this part of the world: the arranged one. When you marry someone you barely ...

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  • Life is stranger than art, and playwright Dario Fo knew this better than many. He wrote darkly funny, heavily satirical plays laden with political subtext in Fascist Italy, when speaking out against the government was dangerous. So he did what clever creative people living under oppressive regimes ...

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  • The Women’s March that happened in over sixty countries all over the world a weekend or two ago was the best thing to happen in 2017 yet. Women and men in every state in America and in countries around the world gathered to protest the Trump administration’s high-handed and ...

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  • I’ve been re-reading Virginia Woolf’s famous, wonderful essay “A Room of One’s Own”. For the unfamiliar: English novelist Woolf wrote an essay on women and writing, women and their careers essentially, and why there haven’t been enough women creating fiction. A ...

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  • Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t all really trapped inside some thoroughly complex sci-fi world where everything is being controlled by the deepest secret agency whose plan was this all along. The only other explanation for the filibustering we spend our lives indulging in is that we’re ...

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  • We’ve succeeded in adding to our National List of Petty Rubbish: singer Taher Shah has left the country. The man was a fabulously bonkers musician, internet-famous for songs like ‘Eye to Eye’ and ‘Angels’, his really, really long hair and penchant for green and blue ...

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  • Happy new year, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal! One can’t deny that the idea of a fresh start is quite appealing—the thought that you can leave the past behind a little and try to do things differently in the new year. Us People of the East don’t really ...

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  • I am, for my sins, now on more social media than I was before (needs must, etc). And since I’m there, there are naturally many, many photographs of people wearing shadi clothes (because what’s the point of being as dressed-up as the bride if nobody else sees it?). And since there are ...

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  • I have been watching a rather interesting show on the way Queen Elizabeth the Second- the current reigning monarch of England- ascended the throne. The show follows her from a young newlywed who then becomes Queen much sooner than she anticipated when her father dies young (in his fifties, which ...

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  • My grandfather was a civil servant his entire career, but he loved poetry. English, Urdu, Persian—he knew his poetry inside out, a lifelong love. At some point, after he retired from the Railways, he wrote a textbook, a guide to Persian poetry for college students. It was a slim volume, ...

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  • Heigh ho, a hiatus! As we return to normal scheduling, we wait also for the weather to turn. And we wait, and wait, and wait. December has begun with no need to wear more than one extra layer, turn on a heater or dread getting out of your warm bed in the morning. After the days of tremendously ...

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  • The US presidential race shook the world, and the outcome of it was stunning in the literal sense: the world was speechless, unable to believe that someone like Donald Trump could actually become President of the United States of America, arguably the most powerful country in the world right now. ...

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  • Last week I had the great privilege of experiencing first-hand what things may happen when the sisterhood works. The Fundraisers, a group of women dedicated to raising money for charity, host an event each year called the Bargain Basement Sale (BBS). All kinds of businesses—from cupcake ...

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  • Good news, ladies all over the world! An injectable contraceptive for men has been developed that is just as effective as the female version. It works the same way, too: you get a shot, the effects last for a few months, you get depressed, have mood swings and acne. The only difference is that the ...

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  • The chai-wallah has gone down in internet history: a blue-eyed, square jawed teenager at a tea stall in Islamabad, caught by a photographer unawares as he poured tea. It’s a remarkable photograph, artfully enhanced but captures an intense gaze and an unconscious grace. Social media exploded; ...

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  • The one image that has stayed with me throughout the Trump campaign for the American presidency is that of his daughter Ivanka standing by his side. More recently, she has been joined by Trump’s previously estranged second daughter Tiffany. Through the storm of revolting statements that ...

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  • How far is too far? At what point does rule of law become an infringement on one’s civil liberties? How far is freedom of speech all right? On the one hand there’s the ghastly spectacle of the American presidential race—the unabated horror that is Donald Trump, who has been ...

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  • In Eliot’s monumental literary touchstone of a poem “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”, the narrator, Mr. Prufrock, muses upon his life and life in general, and one bit is how there will be time “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet” and also for ...

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  • Afghans are being sent back “home”, some on barely a few days’ notice. Let’s make the details clear though: many of them are Afghans ethnically, but born and brought up in Pakistan. Just like a great many of us are ethnically Kashmiri, Pathan, Rajput, Mughal, so forth, but ...

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  • When is a flash mob not a flash mob? The answer is simple: when there are girls in it. Because you see, the rules of the game are such that things that involve women and things that interest them are foremost stupid and second, dangerous because they are feminine. Capitalism plunges us into that ...

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  • So much of being a woman seems to be predicated on someone else’s idea of what you should be doing. If you’re in France, you can’t wear a burkini because it is liberal “haraam”. If you’re in Pakistan, you can’t wear a bikini because religious ...

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  • All college grads know the living hell of negotiating college administration, public or private. They’ve seen it all, they have known it all, they are Prufrock’s grandparents in terms of world-weary existential ennui. You need them to fit you into a full class you desperately need in ...

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  • Fashion is the new frontier, here in Pakistan. It used to be that art was the great equaliser, but now our understanding of art has shifted and fashion, puzzlingly, falls into its purview now. I’m puzzled because in Pakistan fashion is hardly art. You may be inspired by Ottoman Istanbul and ...

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  • I am a third generation Pakistani in a family that began its patriotic life to the tune of loss: stately homes, land, extremely successful business, the family silver, a new bicycle and beloved pet goat. Things were discarded, set aside, for an ideal and that was that. And ever since, we’ve ...

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  • Six hundred children have gone missing in Punjab over the past year. According to the police, they’re all runaways—children who just decided they didn’t like it at home so they ran away. Because children, well-known for the rational thinking skills and ability to control adults, ...

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  • One of the great and most important reasons all Pakistanis should travel is exposure; particularly to places that are known for their multiculturalism, operating inside democratic governments that are socially inclined. Once one is there, one must then open eyes very wide and leave the doors in ...

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